Travel book reviews


Fodor's Travel. $16.95.

The Fodor's guides are notable for their ratings of sights, restaurants, shops, accommodations and attractions. They also give updated and fairly comprehensive coverage of each destination.

In the case of Vancouver and Victoria, the scope is broadened to include a preview of the 2010 Winter Games, an overview of “First Nation” attractions and even a page on “How to Speak B.C.” After a thorough rundown on what to see and where to stay, eat and shop in each city, the Vancouver half of the guide focuses on sports and outdoor activities, while the Victoria half strays into the village of Sooke and sets sail for the Gulf Islands.

Travelers are also pointed toward other attractions beyond the city limits, ranging from skiing at Whistler to wine tasting in the Okanagan Valley, excursions as fetching as those offered within Canada's two premier western cities.

Margaret Backenheimer, Chicago Tribune


By Rob Sangster and Tim Leffel. Menasha Ridge Press. $22.95.

Once upon a time guidebooks were routinely hefty compendiums, 500-page knapsack breakers that covered pretty much everything.

This tool kit for the independent traveler to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama is a throwback. Roughly two-thirds of the pages are devoted to how to travel in the region and how independent travel abroad transforms travelers.

Economy travel experts Sangster and Leffel devote chapters to putting together an itinerary, choosing a travel partner, using tour operators, procuring tickets and documents, saving money, planning a budget, getting the right gear, staying healthy, transferring from the airport, selecting affordable lodging, negotiating with local cabbies and vendors, meeting locals and more.

J.D. Brown, Chicago Tribune